The pull of Popeyes has been strong lately. The day before we left for vacation, the office was quiet. One of my colleagues was out on her own trip. Another had gone home sick. Out resident space cadet had wandered off from her desk with no indication of where she’d gone or when she would return.
It was a little after 1:00 when I realized if I wanted lunch, I’d need to go soon. I’d had a pretty filling breakfast sandwich so I wasn’t terribly hungry. I figured I could get Popeyes since the lunch rush was nearly over. On my drive over I passed a man about my age walking alone. He seemed distressed, pacing in an erratic pattern as though he was contemplating charging into traffic. It was hard to tell what was going on but he charged at two of the cars in front of me as I passed.
I arrived at the restaurant without issue, getting my food without issue or floor show. On the way back, I spotted the man again. This time he’d made it across the street and seemed worse off than before. Only about 15 minutes had passed but he’d really gone downhill. Or uphill in this case.
He charged up the road’s embankment, pulling his pants down briefly as though he needed to drop a hot deuce. But then changed his mind and yanked them up, deciding to charge at a car in front of like a raging elephant. All the while, he was waving his arms around wildly and shouting at seemingly unseen enemies. It was only a matter of time before he hurt himself or someone else.
The cars slowing to avoid him were paying attention but it was all to easy for him to be struck by someone who wasn’t. We were nearing the UPS hub and often trucks came in and out at varying speed. I decided to call 911.
When you actually have to call emergency services, it becomes instantly twenty times more difficult than typical cell phone usage. My Bluetooth wouldn’t recognize the voice command and I ended up having to dial manually. When I finally got the call to dial, I actually got an answering machine, which instructed me not to hang up, but also didn’t give me a chance to leave a message or speak to someone.
Instead it rang and rang until a nonplussed operator picked up. Her inquiry as to whether I needed police, ambulance or fire assistance was delivered as placidly as my preference for regular or decaf. I informed her of the situation and she remarked that they were already aware and state police would handle the matter.
As I hung up, I wondered what would happen to this disturbed person. Was it drugs or lack there of that pushed him to such behavior? I’d seen some unsettling behavior in my relationship with my first boyfriend. A combination of mental instability and penchant for drug use left him in similar states. His sobriety was often his worst state because his unaltered state was his most volatile.
This man’s behavior was eerily similar. I hope he got the help he needed but if state troopers were on their way, I fear it could get ugly, considering the circumstances. It’s unlikely that he’d go quietly and I could see this getting ugly fast.